handle right Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Lamp with Handle and Five Spouts
Lighting Devices
Work Type
lighting device
10th-13th century
Creation Place: Middle East
Islamic period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Mixed copper alloy
Cast, lost-wax process
4.1 x 17.4 x 21.7 cm (1 5/8 x 6 7/8 x 8 9/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Mixed Copper Alloy:
Cu, 68.93; Sn, 5.93; Pb, 20.76; Zn, 3.22; Fe, 0.24; Ni, 0.07; Ag, 0.09; Sb, 0.28; As, 0.46; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.024; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina of the lamps is green. 149.1972.A and 149.1972.B also have spots that are brighter green.

The lamps appear to be cast. The circular shapes of the central components of 1961.37, 149.1972.A, and 149.1972.B are fairly precise, and it is likely that the models used to make these casts were turned. The only clear evidence for this, however, is the circular incised lines and, on 1961.37, what appear to be the sharp ridges of throw marks. 1961.37 has a center punch mark (2 mm) on its interior and exterior surfaces, which could derive from either the finishing of the model or the cast lamp. The spouts, handles, and nodular feet of 149.1972.A and 149.1972.B could have been added to the turned models or to the wax casts made from them. No evidence of wax joins is visible, however.

Although the lid of 149.1972.A and 149.1972.B is a reasonable fit and color match with its associated but unattached lamp, the pin that held it in place is fused in position by corrosion products, and the hole in the lid flange is intact. This raises the question of whether the two belonged together originally, although it is possible that they were separated just prior to burial and that subsequent corrosion fused the pin in place with the lid buried nearby.

149.1972.A and 149.1972.B have what appears to be oil residue embedded in the accretions and corrosion products in the interior.

Henry Lie (submitted 2001)

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mr. Edward A. Waters
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This lamp features an open, semicircular, saucer-shaped reservoir on the side near the handle. The opposite side has short, straight segments connecting the five open nozzles (1). Rounded ridges articulate the join of each nozzle to the underside of the reservoir. The nozzles are V-shaped in section. The height of the reservoir is 2.56 cm, the length of the nozzles is c. 3.9 cm, the length of the handle is 6.7 cm, and the exterior diameter of the reservoir is 10.4 cm. The rim (0.36 to 0.39 cm thick) extends around the top of each nozzle. The lamp stands on a thin, slightly convex ring foot with a compass point in the center. The reservoir is also marked with a compass point, turn marks, and four concentric grooves in the center. The nozzles begin 90 degrees from the handle on each side and are evenly spaced, which indicates that they were placed using a compass. The handle is a flat wedge-shape connected to a perpendicular flat disc with a terminal on top, which served as a thumb rest. The surface of the disc bears a faintly defined flower or fruit.


1. Compare a round, open lamp with six pointed nozzles and a similar handle arrangement in H. Menzel, Antike Lampen im Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseum zu Mainz, Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz Katalog 15 (Mainz, 1969) 113-14, fig. 93.9, with comparisons from medieval Britain.

Jane Ayer Scott

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu